Corporate Cyber Security: Google Capital Paves the Way by Investing $100m

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Published: 06th February 2017
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Technology giant Google’s two year old growth equity arm, Google Capital, made its first investment into the field of cyber security, as businesses and governments around the world take a stand against the growing threat of online attacks.

The Google unit pioneered a $100 million investment in Crowdstrike, a California based firm with deep ties to Washington. Shawn Henry, the company’s head of investigations, was a former top computer-crimes official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Crowdstrike’s Washington-based chief technology officer, Dmitri Alperovitch, has an impressive record of recognizing and profiling foreign hacker groups around the globe.

Apart from Google Capital, other serious investors include Rackspace, a Crowdstrike customer, venture-capital firm Accel, and private-equity firm Warburg Pincus. Till date, Crowdstrike has raised $156m in venture funding. As of now, it has not disclosed the company’s revenue or profitability.

In the years leading up to the investment, Crowdstrike is famous in the cyber intelligence circle for linking a number of hacking incidents to certain countries using animal names. For example, China-linked hackers are called things like “Aurora Panda,” while Russian hacking groups use names such as “Energetic Bear.” The term kitten is reserved for hackers Crowdstrike has linked to Iran.

Fig 1.Organizations Targeted by Chinese Hackers
The names and linking to the cyber investigations point to a growing push by cybersecurity companies to sell customers surveillance and intelligence on potential attacks. One Crowdstrike product, the Falcon platform, aims to tell customers not just that they might be hacked, but to also quickly label the hacker group targeting their system.

CEO of Crowdstrike, George Kurtz mentioned that the billings are growing, and that growth is the main priority of the company. He added, “Our current focus is not on turning a profit today but on rapidly growing our customer base as quickly as possible.”
Google Capital's move points to the fact that private investors see room for another competitor to CrowdStrike known as FireEye, the publicly traded security company also known for preventing and identifying Chinese hacker groups.

Companies such as Crowdstrike and FireEye are part of a new domain of cyber security, challenging existing antivirus software providers such as McAfee (now known as Intel Security) and Symantec, according to Financial Times. The cyber-feud between Crowdstrike and FireEye is attracting attention in the valley, as FireEye has been spending heavily in its past two years to win new business opportunities. Both companies pitch services to monitor a customer's network remotely for any potential threats, along with the portfolio of managing high-profile hacking investigations.

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